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Opinion: ‘Microland’ To Fight Poverty; Ensuring Quality, Timely Drugs For Africa

‘Microland’ Can Help Fight Poverty, Especially Among Women

In a Forbes column, Elisabeth Eaves, deputy editor at Forbes, examines the concept of “‘microland:’ securing rights to small plots of land for the world’s poorest.” The plots not only “provid[e] shelter and a place to work, land confers the ability to grow food and income, and tends to boost agricultural productivity,” Eaves writes. The column describes the work of the Rural Development Institute that presented the success of its microland project in India during the Clinton Global Initiative. RDI says it has helped secure “some 133,000 acres for 94,000 families” since 2005 and will soon launch a program aimed at helping women secure microland.

Eaves continues: “Like so many who work in economic development, RDI has taken note of all the research pointing to women as a lynchpin. They are more likely than men to reinvest income in their families. More income in women’s hands results in higher caloric intake and better nutrition for the household. And among the world’s poor, women own less than 2% of the land but, as agricultural laborers, produce most of the food. Granting them land effectively transforms them from property into property owners.”

“Is microland a panacea for poverty? No, nothing is,” Eaves concludes. “But property rights are … as basic to helping the world’s poorest as access to health care and education” (9/29).

‘Market Principles’ Will Help Africa Secure Quality, Timely Drugs

“Donating money to boost African access to essential drugs is a wonderful thing. But unless philanthropists insist on market principles in the continent’s drug market, and until they apply necessary due diligence when cutting checks, their aid stands to be hijacked by governmental opportunism, incompetence and corruption,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Roger Bate writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that examines drug production and aid mismanagent in East Africa. “So far, donors have focused almost exclusively on lowering drug prices to improve access. They have subsidized drugs, demanded lower prices from innovator companies, and have weakened patent law to increase generic competition,” Bate continues.

“Many are now pushing for African production of medicines, but the result so far has been higher costs and probably inferior drugs. In addition, donors are repeatedly awarding large contracts to cheap but erratic suppliers, costing lives.” Bate cites an example in Kenya when an Indian pharmaceutical company did not deliver orders on time or in full, and the “U.S. had to provide emergency supplies of other approved antimalarial drugs at considerable cost.” Bate asks, “And what is the Global Fund’s role in all of this? The fund, like other donors, has a duty to ensure that the companies that win bids for its monies can actually deliver as promised” (9/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.